A.J. Smith addresses special-teams issues

Earlier this week, San Diego coach Norv Turner did not blame special-teams coach Steve Crosby for the team’s season-long issues. Turner pinned the persistent problems on player performance.

In an interview with a San Diego radio station, Turner’s boss, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith, also backed up Crosby and pointed to mental mistakes made by players.

“Well, I don’t think it was the coaching part of it,” Smith said. “ If it was the coaching part of it then it would be scheming and that sort of nature, but when we break it down we’ve had some mental errors. So the question is, why are we having mental errors? And if they continue to happen then of course you get new players or if it spreads around and starts to be a lot of different players, so I do think it is a player problem and we need to address that on the punt coverage. Now we had the same situation on the other coverage and we made some changes and we’ve got a unit coming together. When we get other players back too who have done it and are familiar with it. We think that continuity in anything is going to help you, but we haven’t had it. So it has been piecemeal and a few other things, but we’ve also had some veterans along the way uncharacteristically cause some of these problems … ”

Smith knows the Chargers could have a much better record than its current 4-5 mark if it weren’t for the special-teams miscues. San Diego is ranked No. 1 in the NFL in offense and No. 2 in defense.

“Well, just my estimation, when in hindsight when you look back this is what you do, I just feel that if we didn’t have those terrible situations, which is only hypothetical a little bit, maybe we could have had ourselves three more victories in three of those games?” Smith said. And that is just me looking back at it after the fact when it is going by the board, and then the numbers of course would have changed. But we don’t have them and you are what your record says you are as Coach Parcells made famous many years ago. So the San Diego Chargers are four and that is all we got”